Liberia: Lawmakers Contemplate Outsourcing the Management of Roberts Int’l Airport
MONROVIA – The Senate ad-hoc committee set up by the Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie to probe issues affecting the operations of Roberts International Airport (RIA) has recommended the outsourcing of the country’s lone international airport as a means of salvaging it from international ban.
Rivergee County Senator Jonathan Boycharles Sogbie informed Plenary that during their assessment, the committee discovered that the International Civil Aviation Organization had given Liberia an ultimatum to upgrade its localizer to modern equipment because what we have currently is outdated and not working. The equipment is essential to safe regulations.
“They want us to get it working within 90 days and if we cannot get it done planes coming to Liberia will be at their own risk,” Sen. Sogbie disclosed.
The localizer is the equipment used by Aviation to locate Liberia on the map.
In addition to outsourcing the management of the airport, the ad-hoc committee has also recommended a public hearing with experts to determine the way forward on the best way necessary to address issues affecting the management of the airport.
The Senator Sogbie-led committee has also recommended a solar field that meets international standards to solve the electricity challenge that the airport is faced with.
They lamented that the RIA which is supposed to be a major contributor to the national envelope is rather taking from the envelope without any tangibles.
The committee observed that the RIA runs on three generators — two of which are currently out of use; that the RIA uses 800 gallons of fuel per day for its operations at a monthly cost of US$148,000 (yearly US$1,785,600).
Though the lone international airport in the country, the RIA has over the past months been faced with daunting challenges which have caused SN Brussels and Royal Air Maroc to abort landing, something which experts in the aviation sector have described as embarrassing to the country.
Electricity challenge at the airport has forced airlines to change their schedules to Liberia and in some cases, have to push their check-in time ahead so as to make room for refueling in a neighboring country.
The Pro-Tempore believes these challenges which also include constant protests by workers at the airport are systematic issues that need to be tackled thoroughly.
“The RIA [problem] is not only human resources, but it also is not only power supply. We need to look at it as an institution. We need to see what the problem is and on Thursday there will be a letter on the floor instructing our Committee on Transport to visit the Airport to assess the problem there,” Sen. Chie said.
It is likely that Senate Committee on Transport would be touring the facilities at the Roberts International Airport ahead of the confirmation hearing of Darlington Karnley.
President Weah appointed Mr. Karnley on May 4 amid the crisis the country’s only international airport had faced with.
In a Press Release, the Executive Mansion stated that Mr. Karnley has “a rich background in the field of aviation and is a Master’s Degree Candidate in aviation management from the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Philadelphia”.
However, investigations into his credentials showed that Mr. Karnley has no administrative experience in the aviation sector and that his only educational qualification in the sector is aircraft maintenance.